Erstwhile skipper Paul Connolly is the latest victim of the glacially-paced Rams squad rebuild overseen by Nigel Howard Clough. The poor sod has had to sign for Leeds.
‘Connors’ was skipper under Paul Jewell, who made much of the fact that the Scouser drove up from Plymouth and signed for Derby without recourse to an agent. His only goal for the club was a diving header to save a point at the death against Burnley, when Cloughie had pushed him onto the right wing in desperation. He also filled in at centre back when NC had nobody else available, but despite his height and size, never seemed overly comfortable in the role.
Nigel wasn’t keen on the player and from some of his post-match pronouncements last season, it started to seem to me that Connolly was almost viewed with the same sort of thinly-veiled contempt that Clough nurtured for Martin Albrechtsen. Connolly was banished from the eleven when Nicky Hunt arrived on loan in January and the FA Cup win over Millwall was his last start in a Rams shirt, before Sheffield United took him on loan. Connolly made 19 starts for Derby last season and 4 subs appearance, picking up six bookings.
What interests me about this story is the way that the Danny Buijs deal, which had been seen as pretty-much done, has evaporated. John Brayford is now being identified as first-choice full back for the new season. Buijs was shown around Pride Park and the Evening Telegraph reported that he was set to sign – but then terms were not agreed, with the player reportedly only being offered a single-year contract. That seems bizarre to me, if it is true.
Brayford is a young lad who is stepping up two divisions. We have seen from the example of Dean Moxey that it’s an awful lot to ask of inexperienced players to become Championship regulars overnight and the general assumption was that we would see another right back arrive. It’s clear now that we won’t.
I guess it’s not too much of a surprise, given that we have been told that the wage bill has to go down again. Centre backs Dean Leacock and Russell Anderson and ‘at a pinch’ Paul Green are now the right full back cover. Deano is much loved, but never fit and Anderson is a centre half by trade. Green is wasted playing anywhere except for centre midfield.
I suppose the idea is that if Brayford is injured for more than a couple of weeks, or seriously struggles for form, then we dip into the loan market and bring in a player to plug the gap. That’s the reality at Pride Park these days and will be for a wee while yet.